|« Prev||SECTION V. Communication of good to the…||Next »|
Places of Scripture from whence it may be argued, that communication of good to the creature, was one thing which God had in view, as an ultimate end of the creation of the world.
1. According to the Scripture, communicating good to the creatures is what is in itself pleasing to God. And this is not merely subordinately agreeable, and esteemed valuable on account of its relation to a further end, as it is in executing justice in punishing the sins of men; but what God is inclined to on its own account, and what he delights in simply and ultimately. For though God is sometimes in Scripture spoken of as taking pleasure in punishing men’s sins, Deut. xxviii. 63. “The Lord will rejoice over you, to destroy you.” Ezek. v. 13. “Then shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted.” Yet God is often spoken of as exercising goodness and showing mercy, with delight, in a manner quite different, and opposite to that of his executing wrath. For the latter is spoken of as what God proceeds to with backwardness and reluctance; the misery of the creature being not agreeable to him on its own account. Neh. ix. 17. “Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” Psal. ciii. 8. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Psal. cxlv. 8. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy.” We have again almost the same words, Jonah iv. 2. Mic. vii. 18. “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, &c.—He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” Ezek. xviii. 32. “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Lam. iii. 33. “He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” Ezek. xxxiii. 11. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel!” 2 Pet. iii. 9. “Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
2. The work of redemption wrought out by Jesus Christ, is spoken of in such a manner as, being from the grace and love of God to men, does not well consist with his seeking a communication of good to them, only subordinately. Such expressions as that in John iii. 16. carry another idea. John iii. 16.“God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And 1 John iv. 9, 10. “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” So Eph. ii. 4. “But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” &c But if indeed this was only from a regard to a further end, entirely diverse from our good; then all the love is truly terminated in that, its ultimate object, and therein is his love manifested, strictly and properly speaking, and not in that he loved us, or exercised such high regard towards us. For if our good be not at all regarded ultimately, but only subordinately, then our good or interest is, in itself considered, nothing in God’s regard.
The Scripture every where represents it, as though the great things Christ did and suffered, were in the most direct and proper sense from exceeding love to us. Thus the apostle Paul represents the matter, Gal. ii. 20. “Who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Eph. v. 25. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it.” And Christ himself, John xvii. 19. “For their sakes I sanctify myself.” And the scripture represents Christ as resting in the salvation and glory of his people, when obtained as in what he ultimately sought, as having therein reached the goal, obtained the prize he aimed at, enjoying the travail of his soul in which he is satisfied, as the recompense of his labours and extreme agonies, Isa. liii. 10. 11. “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities.” He sees the travail of his soul, in seeing his seed, the children brought forth as the result of his travail. This implies, that Christ has his delight, most truly and properly, in obtaining the salvation of his church, not merely as a means, but as what he rejoices and is satisfied in, most directly and properly. This is proved by those scriptures which represent him as rejoicing in his obtaining this fruit of his labour and purchase, as the bridegroom, when he obtains his bride, Isa. lxii. 5. “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” And how emphatical and strong to the purpose, are the expressions in Zeph. iii. 17. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will rejoice over thee with singing.” The same thing may be argued from Prov. viii. 30, 31. “Then was I by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him: rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.” And from those places, that speak of the saints as God’s portion, his jewels and peculiar treasure, these things are abundantly confirmed, John xii. 23-32. But the particular consideration of what may be observed to the present purpose, in that passage of Scripture, may be referred to the next section.
3. The communications of divine goodness, particularly forgiveness of sin, and salvation, are spoken of, from time to time, as being for God’s goodness’ sake, and for his mercies’ sake, just in the same manner as they are spoken of as being for God’s name’s sake, in the places observed before. Psal. xxv. 7. “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.” In the 11th verse, the Psalmist says, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity.” 207207 Psal.xxv. 11. Neh. ix. 31. “Nevertheless, for thy great mercies’ sake, thou hast not utterly consumed them, nor forsaken them; for thou art a gracious and a merciful God.” Psal. vi. 4. “Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: O save me for thy mercies’ sake.” Psal. xxxi. 16. “Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies’ sake.” Psal. xliv. 26. “Arise for our help; redeem us for thy mercies’ sake.” And here it may be observed, after what a remarkable manner God speaks of his love to the children of Israel in the wilderness, as though his love were for love’s sake, and his goodness were its own end and motive. Deut. vii. 7, 8. “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you.”
4. That the government of the world in all its parts, is for the good of such as are to be the eternal subjects of God’s goodness, is implied in what the Scripture teaches us of Christ being set at God’s right hand, made king of angels and men; set at the head of the universe, having all power given him in heaven and earth, to that end that he may promote their happiness; being made head over all things to the church, and having the government of the whole creation for their good. 208208 Eph. i. 20-23 John xvii. 2 Matt. xi. 27 Matt. xxviii. 18, 19 John iii. 35 Christ mentions it, Mark ii. 28. as the reason why the Son of Man is made Lord of the Sabbath, because “the Sabbath was made for man.” And if so, we may in like manner argue, that all things were made for man, because the Son of Man is made Lord of all things.
5. That God uses the whole creation, in his government of it, for the good of his people, is most elegantly represented in Deut. xxxiii. 26. “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven.” The whole universe is a machine, or chariot, which God hath made for his own use, as is represented in Ezekiel’s vision. God’s seat is heaven, where he sits and governs, Ezek. i. 22, 26-28. The inferior part of the creation, this visible universe, subject to such continual changes and revolutions, are the wheels of the chariot. God’s providence, in the constant revolutions, alterations, and successive events, is represented by the motion of the wheels of the chariot, by the spirit of him who sits on his throne on the heavens, or above the firmament. Moses tells us for whose sake it is, that God moves the wheels of this chariot, or rides in it, sitting in his heavenly seat; and to what end he is making his progress, or goes his appointed journey in it, viz. the salvation of his people.
6. God’s judgments on the wicked in this world, and also their eternal damnation in the world to come, are spoken of, as being for the happiness of God’s people. So are his judgments on them in this world. Isa. xliii. 3, 4. “For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou hast been precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” So the works of God’s vindictive justice and wrath are spoken of as works of mercy to his people, Psal. cxxxvi. 10, 15, 17-20. And so is their eternal damnation in another world. Rom. ix. 22, 23. “What if God, willing to show his wrath and make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” Here it is evident the last verse comes in, in connexion with the foregoing, as giving another reason of the destruction of the wicked, viz. showing the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy: higher degrees of their glory and happiness, in a relish of their own enjoyments, and a greater sense of their value, and of God’s free grace in bestowing them.
7. It seems to argue, that God’s goodness to them who are to be the eternal subjects of his goodness, is the end of the creation; since the whole creation, in all its parts, is spoken of as theirs. 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. ”All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours.” The terms are very universal; and both works of creation and providence are mentioned; and it is manifestly the design of the apostle to be understood of every work of God whatsoever. Now, how can we understand this any otherwise, than that all things are for their benefit; and that God made and uses all for their good?
8. All God’s works, both of creation and providence, are represented as works of goodness or mercy to his people; as in the 136th psalm. His wonderful works in general. Ver. 4. “To him who alone doth great wonders; for his mercy endureth for ever.” The works of creation in all its parts. Ver. 5-9. “To him that by wisdom made the heavens; for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that stretched out the earth above the waters; for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that made great lights; for his mercy endureth for ever. The sun to rule by day; for his mercy endureth for ever. The moon and stars to rule by night; for his mercy endureth forever.” And God’s works of providence, in the following part of the psalm.
9. That expression in the blessed sentence pronounced on the righteous at the day of judgment, “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” seems to hold forth thus much, that the fruits of God’s goodness to them was his end in creating the world, and in his providential disposals: that God in all his works, in laying the foundation of the world, and ever since the foundation of it, had been preparing this kingdom and glory for them.
10. Agreeable to this, the good of men is spoken of as an ultimate end of the virtue of the moral world. Rom. xiii. 8, 9, 10. “He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, &c.—And if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Gal. v. 14. “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Jam. ii. 8. “If ye fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself, thou shalt do well.” 116
If the good of the creature be one end of God in all he does; and in all he requires moral agents to do; an end by which they should regulate all their conduct; these things may be easily explained: but otherwise, it seems difficult to be accounted for, that the Holy Ghost should thus express himself. The Scripture represents it to be the spirit of all true saints, to prefer the welfare of God’s people to their chief joy. This was the spirit of Moses and the prophets of old: the good of God’s church was an end by which they regulated all their conduct. And so it was with the apostles. 2 Cor. iv. 15. “For all things are for your sakes.” 2 Tim. ii. 10. “I endured all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” And the Scriptures represent it, as though every Christian should in all he does, be employed for the good of the church, as each particular member is employed for the good of the body; Rom. xii. 4, 5, &c. Eph. iv. 15, 16. 1 Cor. xii. 12, 25. &c. To this end, the Scripture teaches us, the angels are continually employed, Heb. i. 14.
|« Prev||SECTION V. Communication of good to the…||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version